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Home > Dogs > Pancreatitis in Dogs: Vet-Approved Signs, Causes & Care

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Vet-Approved Signs, Causes & Care

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re a dog parent, you know how important it’s to keep your canine healthy. However, like humans, dogs are prone to various diseases and conditions that could jeopardize their health. One of the common conditions that occur in dogs is pancreatitis.

As you can guess by the condition’s name, it affects your dog’s pancreas and could be life-threatening. Because of this, it’s essential to learn more about the signs and causes of this condition, as well as how to care for your dog if it has pancreatitis.

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What Is Pancreatitis?

Every dog has a pancreas in its abdominal cavity that produces enzymes that allow it to digest food. However, your dog’s pancreas could get inflamed, meaning it suffers from pancreatitis.

When a dog has pancreatitis, its pancreas is not functioning as supposed to, so instead of the digestion enzymes reaching the small intestine; they activate inside the pancreas. That damages both the pancreas and the organs around it, which could cause a lot of pain in your furry friend.

It’s a widespread condition in dogs, so every canine is prone to this condition regardless of its breed, age, and sex.

There are two types of pancreatitis:
  • Acute: This type of pancreatitis starts suddenly, without any previous signs of the problem. If the inflammation inside your dog spreads, it could be lethal, which is why you need to learn to recognize the signs of this condition and react promptly if you notice them.
  • Chronic: This type of pancreatitis lasts for a long time, and most of the time, your dog doesn’t show signs until later on when the condition has done its damage.

Both types of pancreatitis are painful for your dog and can vary from mild to severe.

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Image Credit: DimaBerlin, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Pancreatitis?

There are various signs that indicate your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, although some resemble other diseases, which may make it difficult to determine if your dog has pancreatitis.

The signs your dog can experience if it has this condition include:
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Hunched back
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdomen area
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Appetite loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Possible collapse and shock

While just one of these signs can indicate numerous health issues if you notice multiple of them, remember that your dog may have pancreatitis. Of course, you should always get your dog to the vet, who will perform blood tests and do more testing to find out if your dog has this condition and teach you how to treat it.

What Are the Causes of Pancreatitis?

A strange thing about pancreatitis is that most of the time, veterinarians don’t know the cause of pancreatitis in dogs.

However, some specific causes affect the pancreas and therefore may lead to pancreatitis, including:

  • A high-fat diet
  • Eating human food
  • Obesity problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Genetic predispositions

How Do I Care for a Dog with Pancreatitis?

If your dog suffers from pancreatitis, you should immediately involve your vet and start treatment. The treatment for your dog will typically depend on the severity of the signs your dog is experiencing.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which Dog Breeds Are Prone to Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a condition that can affect dogs of all breeds. However, some breeds are more susceptible to this condition than others, including:

Also, older dogs, overweight dogs, and dogs that already have a history of illnesses and health conditions typically have higher chances of getting Pancreatitis.

Is Pancreatitis Painful for Your Dog?

Pancreatitis is an extremely painful condition for dogs. The condition itself causes pain in your dog’s abdomen, but due to other signs that follow this condition, your dog will be in more pain. Pancreatitis commonly causes vomiting, diarrhea, and overall weakness in your dog, which leads to pain in its whole body.

What Kind of Prognosis Do Dogs Suffering from Pancreatitis Have?

The prognosis for a dog suffering from pancreatitis depends on the severity of the condition. Most of the time, if the condition is mild, your dog can easily recover. However, when the condition is severe, your dog might not be able to recover entirely.

Is There a Way to Prevent Pancreatitis in Dogs?

While there are precautionary measures you can take to lower the chances of pancreatitis in your dog, there’s no way to prevent the development of this condition entirely.

A low-fat diet and food supplements can help your dog and lower the chances of this health problem. Also, it’s best to keep your dog active and prevent it from becoming overweight because overweight canines have higher chances of getting pancreatitis.

Another thing to remember is to avoid giving human food to your furry friend. Instead of random foods, give your dog high-quality dog food with enough nutrients that are suitable for your furry friend.

Are There Long-Term Problems After Pancreatitis?

Most of the time, dogs don’t suffer any long-term problems after pancreatitis. However, if your dog has severe pancreatitis, it could experience the following long-term health issues:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Lack of proper digestion
  • Possible painful adhesions between abdominal organs

Of course, the problems will depend on your dog’s overall health, agility, and age. If your dog does experience long-term problems after pancreatitis, it’s best to speak to your vet about the treatment your canine will need.

Which Foods Make Pancreatitis in Dogs Worse?

If your dog has pancreatitis, you should avoid giving it high-fat foods and high-carb foods. Also, dogs with pancreatitis shouldn’t consume human food, scraps, and foods high in sugar.

While dogs can consume plant-based protein, it’s still better to choose natural protein coming from high-quality meat when your dog has pancreatitis.



Pancreatitis is a widespread disease in dogs, which is why it’s up to you to observe your dog and react promptly to any signs. If you act on time, your dog won’t suffer any long-term damage, and you’ll be able to treat the condition quickly.

Featured Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

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